How to harness your authenticity
How many ‘faces’ do you put on in a day? One for work perhaps? Maybe one for when you are with friends. How about the ‘face’ you portray on your social media feed?
When you’re juggling more than one role, expectations can begin to rule the way we act. It is human nature to want to merge with ‘the pack’ and adapt to different environments to avoid standing out.
When it comes to true leadership and showing gravitas, authenticity plays a vital part. Allowing your real personality to be seen, particularly when steered by a clear purpose and values, will give you a grounded-ness and weight which will directly contribute to your inner power.
Being authentic may sound like an easy task – you’re just ‘being yourself’, right? – but in a world where the norm is to conform, knowing who that ‘self’ is and having the confidence to express it can be a challenge.
In order for individuals to act authentically and portray themselves as such, they need to know exactly who their true self is, and be comfortable with it. Harnessing authenticity doesn’t just mean letting it all hang out – I’ve come across many leaders who use ‘being authentic’ as an excuse for unguarded and inappropriate behaviour. It means knowing yourself well enough to not only stand by your values, but also noticing when your flaws are holding you back and being open to change. Click here to read my blog on ‘Self Awareness: 5 tips for leadership success’.
Harnessing any emotion from within can be difficult. There is a level of vulnerability associated with allowing your true self to be seen. Becoming open to those around you is the first step. The second is being OK with not pleasing all of the people all of the time. As a manager or leader, it’s more important to be respected and trusted than to be liked. Sometimes it will be down to you to make the unpopular decisions and deliver the bad news.
Authenticity in the workplace resides in the fine balance between expressing who you are, daring to be different, and respecting your company culture and colleagues.
When faced with difficult situations, it is important to look at the issues at hand objectively, but not compromise on your organisation’s values or your own moral compass. It is easy to be influenced by what people say, but it can be more beneficial to express what you believe is right.
The most tangible illustration of authenticity is how a person communicates. Focus more on expressing yourself honestly than saying the ‘right’ thing, trust your ‘gut’ instinct (which at your level will be based on solid experience and wisdom) and inspire other with your passion.
As you think about what you’re going to say, speak from the heart as well as the head. Be rational, yes, but back up your facts with personal stories that allow others to share your inner life and convey your message with emotion.
Four steps to authenticity:
- Begin by exploring what the term ‘authenticity’ means for you. Identify five words to describe your authentic self and how that would be experienced by the people around you
- Consider how you would like your authentic self to appear in different contexts and what the benefits will be when you reveal yourself more openly
- Identify opportunities where you could express your values and opinions freely and what that will look, sound a feel like to you and others
- To prepare yourself for challenging situations, identify those values and beliefs that you will not compromise on and create a series of statements that reinforce your right to be there, a pep talk that celebrates the authentic you.
Knowing how to channel your authentic self is an invaluable life skill. In time, you will instinctively know how to harness your best self to achieve your aims as a leader. When you allow your authentic colours to emerge, then your gravitas will truly shine.
With the Gravitas Programme, you will be able to work towards being an authentic leader as you begin to understand the elements that make up who you are and what purpose you serve. You can read more about the topic of authenticity in my book, ‘Leading with Gravitas’. It is filled with practical exercises that will help you work through the process of harnessing your authenticity.